Donut NationA Cross-Country Guide to America's Best Artisan Donut Shops

Donuts are America’s favorite treat and, in Donut Nation, Ellen Brown travels the United States in search of the best donut shops. From beloved mom-and-pop establishments and roadside cafes to innovative boutiques and artisanal restaurants, there are more than seventy hand-crafted donut shops to take you from Maine to Arizona. Perfect for the cross-country explorer or home chef, it also includes mouthwatering recipes for donuts like Orange-Pistachio Cake, Maple Bacon, and Strawberry-Buttermilk. Donut Nation is a one-of-a-kind trip to the heart of an American classic.

Ellen Brown is a 30-year veteran foodie. She is the author of 24 cookbooks, including several Complete Idiot’s Guides, Scoop and Mac & Cheese. She is the founding food editor of USA Today and her writing has appeared in numerous publications. She writes a weekly column in The Providence Journal. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

“I always await with an appetite the next volume from the prolific Ellen Brown, whose topics often seem narrow but whose scope is daunting, even when it comes to an item like the donut. For this is not just a book of recipes–and they are all tempting, with names like “Dutch Monkey,” “Chocolate Stout” and “Zeppole”–it is also a Baedeker to the myriad donut shops all over America, each thoroughly researched and lovingly described. Brown, who was USA Today’s first food editor and now is a weekly columnist for the Providence Journal, has enormous affection for American fare and she writes about it with gusto, as when she describes the nurse-like uniforms of Psycho Donuts in San Jose, CA, where the donuts types are scribbled on prescription pads.” –John Mariani, Virtual Gourmet

Maple Bacon DonutsDonut_int.qxd_Layout 1

More than half of the donut shops and restaurants in this book feature yeast-raised donuts topped with maple glaze with some sort of bacon affixed to it. The bacon—which can be plain or candied and occasionally given some heat from mustard or cayenne—can be in large hunks or small slices. I’m placing this recipe here because Tres Shannon, one of the owners of Voodoo Doughnuts, claims to have introduced the now-ubiquitous combination, and due to the opening date of Voodoo, I tend to agree with him. My version uses bacon grease both in the donuts and in the glaze, which I think adds to its harmonious flavor.

Makes 12


1 (1/4 -ounce) package active dry yeast

¾ cup whole milk, heated to 110°F to 115°F

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ cup lukewarm water

1 large egg, at room temperature

¼ cup bacon grease, melted and cooled (but still liquid)

2 cups bread flour

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil for frying


8 slices bacon

2 tablespoons firmly packed

dark brown sugar

⅓ cup pure maple syrup,


1 tablespoon light corn syrup

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine the yeast, milk, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix well. Set aside for about 10 minutes while the yeast proofs. When the yeast looks frothy, add the water, egg, and bacon grease and mix well. Add the bread flour, all-purpose flour, nutmeg, and salt, and beat at low speed until flour is incorporated, forming a soft dough.

Place the dough hook on the mixer, and knead the dough at medium speed for 2 minutes. Raise the speed to high, and knead for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough forms a soft ball and is springy. (If kneading by hand, this will take about 10 to 12 minutes.)

Lightly grease the inside of a large mixing bowl with softened butter or vegetable oil. Add the dough, turning it so it is lightly greased all over. Cover the bowl loosely with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and place it in a warm, draft-free spot. Allow the dough to rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk.

While the dough rises, prepare the glaze and topping. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top of it. Toss the bacon with the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup. Coat it evenly and arrange the slices on the wire rack. Bake the strips in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp. Dab the bacon with paper towels while it’s hot, but do not drain it on paper towels or it will stick to them. When the bacon is cool and crisp, break it into small pieces, and set aside. Reserve the bacon grease for the glaze.

For the glaze, combine the remaining maple syrup, corn syrup, 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly into the surface to keep it from hardening. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Punch the dough down. Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough to a thickness of ½ inch. Use a donut cutter dipped in flour to cut out as many donuts as possible; alternatively, use a 3-inch cookie cutter and then cut out holes with a ¾-inch cutter. Re-roll the scraps one time to a thickness of ½ inch and cut out more donuts and holes.

Cover the baking sheet with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap, and let the donuts rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 40 minutes. Heat at least 2 inches of oil to a temperature of 365°F in a Dutch oven or deep skillet. Place a few layers of paper towels on a baking sheet and top it with a wire cooling rack.

Carefully slide a few donuts into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan and making sure that the donuts do not touch each other. Once the donuts float to the top of the oil, fry them for 1 minute. Gently flip them over using a wire mesh spoon or a chopstick and fry for an additional 1 minute, or until evenly browned. Drain the donuts on the rack, blotting them gently with additional paper towels. Fry the remaining donuts and the donut holes in the same manner. While the donuts are still warm, dip the tops into the glaze, turning to coat them well.

Place them with the glazed side up on a wire rack set over a sheet of waxed paper. Top the glaze with some of the candied bacon. Let the donuts stand for 20 minutes, or until the glaze is set. The donuts can be cut out and refrigerated for up to 1 day, lightly covered with plastic wrap. They should not be fried or glazed more than 6 hours prior to serving.

Reprinted with permission from Donut Nation © 2015 by Ellen Brown, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

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